Clarifications to a review of Action Domain Responder

Herberto Graça, as part of his Software Architecture Chronicles, saw fit to review the Action-Domain-Responder pattern that I have written so much about. It’s a good writeup, and you should read the whole thing, but it is off in a couple of places. I sent Herberto a followup email with some minor corrections and clarifications; I repeat it below (with light editing) for posterity.


The ADR pattern was created by Paul M. Jones

I prefer to say, not that I “created” the pattern, but that I “recognized and named” it in 2014. Slim, for example, already had single-action controllers at that time, and the various Domain Logic patterns previously existed as well. If I “created” anything, it was the idea of the Responder; that is, of treating the Response-building work as a completely separate concern. But even that is just an application of Separated Presentation.

to adjust MVC to the context of web REST APIs.

APIs were one aspect, but the origin was more in the typical HTML page-based interface. For example, the word “Action” in Action Domain Responder was inspired both by “action” methods in Controllers, and by the “action” attribute on <form> tags in HTML interfaces.

because the idea is to adapt the MVC pattern to the context of an HTTP REST API, the Action (Controller) names are mapped to the HTTP request methods so we will have Actions with names as Get, Post, Put, Delete

Well, you can do that, but it’s not strictly necessary. I think it would be more accurate to say that it’s typical for an Action to be mapped to a route, and for the routes themselves to be mapped to GET/POST/PUT/DELETE etc.

As an organization pattern, all Actions on a resource should be grouped under a folder named after the resource.

That is one reasonable approach, but it’s not dictated by ADR. Alternatively, instead of grouping Actions by resource, you might organize them by Use Case, or by the intended Interactions with the underlying application.

This pattern was thought of specifically for REST APIs, so in this form it is not refined enough to be used in web applications with an HTML interface (ie. what would be the name of the action to show a form, prior to creating a resource?) … I think the pattern can easily be extended so that it is fully usable with an HTML interface: We can emulate some extra HTTP methods specifically to handle the HTML requests that a REST API does not have.

Given my notes above, I think it’s fair to say that new HTTP methods are not really needed. What is needed, as Herberto already points out, is a way to “show a form prior to creating a resource” (among other things).

Because the Actions do not necessarily map one-to-one with HTTP methods, it’s easy enough to specify that GET /{$resource}/new (or something similar) routes to an Action that gets default values for that resource from the Domain, then hands off to a Responder that builds the form HTML. You can see an example of that here:

You might route the first as GET /blog/new and the second as POST /blog. (That idea appears to originate from Ruby on Rails and has been imitated elsewhere.)


Aside from those notes, Herberto’s article is a fair summary and description of ADR. I’m glad he put it together.

You can read more about Action Domain Responder at http://pmjones.io/adr.

Are you stuck with a legacy PHP application? You should buy my book because it gives you a step-by-step guide to improving your codebase, all while keeping it running the whole time.

2 thoughts on “Clarifications to a review of Action Domain Responder

  1. I’d advise not to name action classes like their respective HTTP methods. In small application that could work out, but once the application grows, you’ll end up having dozens of classes called Get. Even with a decent IDE, it will be hard to distinguish those. I’ve been there 10 years ago and I would never do it again 😉

    Rather use a descriptive name and tell exactly what the action is responsible of doing, e.g. CreateAttendee, ResetAttendeePassword and so on.

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